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169

Then, stepping past him on her way to the safe, she paused
to strike him solidly on the seat with the flat of her hand.
He grunted with surprise, and swung around toward her.
She was getting a covered dish out of the safe, "beyond his
reach. He wagged his head at her, saying: "You see that?
I told you now, Perse, she'll take care of herself all right.
She'd dust off a bugaboo."

She set the covered dish on the table, laid two plates and
forks, and went to the stove to see about the coffee.

" None for me, thanks," Mr. Munn told her.

'* Just go on and pour his out, and 111 drink it," Mr. Chris-
tian directed.

She poured two cups of coffee, and uncovered the dish to
expose half of an apple pie. Mr. Christian divided that into
two equal portions, slid one piece on to a plate, and set the
plate before Mr. Munn.

" I couldn't eat anything like that much," Mr. Munn said.

"Like you say, Perse," Mr. Christian replied, and put a
smaller slice on another plate. Then he put three spoons of
sugar into the cup of coffee before him, stirred it briskly, and
took a long draught. He began to eat the large piece of pie,
cutting it into slabs and thrusting those into his mouth.
When he chewed, the muscles at the jawbone knotted and
rippled under the red skin. Lucille Christian sat across the
table from the two men, but she kept her eyes on her father.
She sugared the second cup of coffee for him, just as he
drained the first.

"Looks like all that coffee'd keep you awake," Mr. Munn
observed.

" Not me," Mr. Christian said. " I ain't any nervous wreck,
and I got a clean conscience. I can sleep any time I want to.
And the funny part is"—he paused to put another piece of
piecrust into his mouth and to chew it—" is how any little
thing, anything outer the -way, that is, will wake me up right
off. Now you let a rat or a mouse come in my room and he
can just raise hell,,and it'll never faze me. Or a thunder-
storm, now, that'll never faze me, unless I know I oughtef